NOT REAL NEWS: A Look At What Didn’t Happen This Week

Jun 28, 2019, 3:20 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:04 pm
This image shows migrants wrapped in Mylar blankets on a concrete floor in a US Border Patrol facility. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol)
(Photo: U.S. Border Patrol)

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the real facts:


CLAIM: High school yearbook photos prove Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris lied about being part of the second racially integrated class at a California public school system.

THE FACTS: Conservative blogs and social media posts are falsely asserting that Harris lied during the Democratic debate Thursday when she said she was part of “the second class to integrate” at Berkeley Public Schools. As proof, users are sharing Berkeley High School yearbook photos that show black and white students attended the school in the 1960s. Harris, however, wasn’t talking about Berkeley High School. The high school had always been integrated, district spokesman Charles Burress, told The Associated Press. “It was the only high school, that’s where all the kids in the city would go,” he said. Harris entered the school system at age 5 in 1969, one year after Berkeley Public Schools began busing roughly 3,500 white and black students to fully integrate its elementary schools, according to historical information kept by Berkeley Public Schools. The junior high schools in the city were integrated in 1964. The school board didn’t agree to desegregate all 14 elementary schools until the beginning of the 1968 school year, Burress confirmed. Harris started school a year later at Thousand Oaks Elementary, campaign spokesman Ian Sams confirmed to The Associated Press. In March, she shared a copy of her second grade photo in the 1971-72 Thousand Oaks Elementary yearbook on Twitter. Burress said the school system has “accepted as fact” that Harris attended elementary school at Thousand Oaks based on multiple reports about her growing up in Berkeley with her mother.


CLAIM: Video shows the United States Postal Service unveiling the first stamp featuring President Donald Trump.

THE FACTS: A video taken from an event introducing a Forever stamp honoring former President George H.W. Bush was altered to make it appear the postal service was introducing a stamp for Trump. The postal service unveiled its Bush Forever stamp on June 12 at Bush’s presidential library and museum in Texas, The Associated Press reported. The video taken from the ceremony was edited to replace Bush on the stamp with Trump. In the video, a curtain covering a large illustration of the stamp is removed to reveal Trump’s image on the stamp, which has writing in Cyrillic along the edge and is dated 2017. Social media users questioned whether the video was real despite the Russia 2017 wording on the side of the Trump stamp. On the original Bush stamp, the president’s name is included above his portrait and the words “USA Forever” are written along the bottom, with the word ‘forever’ crossed out. The event revealing his stamp was held on what would have been his 95th birthday. Bush, the 41st president, died November 30, 2018.


CLAIM: Proposed California Assembly Bill 262 will allow the state to take physical possession and control of individuals, force vaccinations and seize property.

THE FACTS: The proposed state bill requires county and city health officers to alert other local government agencies when a communicable disease outbreak strikes a community. California Assembly Members Todd Gloria and Lorena Gonzalez proposed AB-262 in January, after a Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego killed 20 people and sent 400 to the hospital from 2016 to 2018. A state audit released in December found the county failed to promptly work with the city to contain the outbreak. Posts circulating on Facebook falsely state the bill calls for the state to “take measures as are necessary to take possession or control of the body of any living person” and will allow the state to forcibly vaccinate people, as well as destroy their property. That quote is nowhere in the text of the bill, which includes no references to property seizure or vaccinations. “This bill is specifically about clarifying the role that local public health officers have in disease outbreaks,” said Nick Serrano, a spokesman for Gloria. “It does not address vaccinations.” The incorrect Facebook posts take details from an existing state law and tie them to proposed Assembly Bill 262. An analysis of Assembly Bill 262 states that individuals are to be offered the Hepatitis A vaccine, but does not call for state or local health officials to forcibly inject anyone with it.


CLAIM: President Donald Trump went his “entire life with zero sex assault claims” until he ran for president.

THE FACTS: A post circulating on Facebook featuring an image of Trump with a group of Playboy bunnies wrongly states that Trump was a “billionaire surrounded by beautiful women his entire life” and was not accused of sexual assault until he ran for president against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. Jill Harth, a former business associate of Trump, sued him in 1997 over sexual assault allegations and later dropped the suit after settling a separate breach of contract case against Trump, The Associated Press reported. Harth, a former business associate of Trump, also told The New York Times that in 1992 he put his hands under her skirt during a business dinner. Several women, including Harth, stepped forward during the 2016 presidential campaign to publicly claim that Trump had sexually assaulted or harassed them in the past. Trump has denied such allegations since the 2016 campaign. Just weeks before the 2016 presidential election, a 2005 tape emerged of Trump on “Access Hollywood” that showed him bragging about grabbing women by the genitals.


CLAIM: The Trump administration was responsible for the treatment of migrants photographed wrapped in Mylar sheets and packed into cells inside detention centers.

THE FACTS: The photos showing a group of migrants wrapped in Mylar sheets, packed into cells and sleeping on concrete floors were taken in 2015 when Barack Obama was president. Social media users began sharing the incorrectly captioned photos last week, following Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comment comparing migrant detention centers to concentration camps. Her comment spurred members of the public to post photos of migrants in detention centers. The photos that were falsely captioned and tweeted in recent days had been cropped to remove a 2015 timestamp that would have shown when they were taken. The photos were originally released in 2016 as evidence used in a lawsuit citing inhumane conditions against U.S. Border Patrol. The Associated Press reported in August 2016 that the images were taken from cell surveillance video in Arizona detention facilities.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

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NOT REAL NEWS: A Look At What Didn’t Happen This Week